Thursday, May 31, 2012

Spike & Norm

I got a kick out of this dialogue between two old Canadian Jazz drummers filmed at Spike McKendry's recent 75th birthday celebration:

I first met Spike in Montreal years ago as he would often pop his head into Biddle's or Upstairs during one of his visits to town. Andre White introduced us to each other and Spike was always keen to talk shop with me about Jazz drumming and would regale me with stories about Kenny Clarke, Philly Joe Jones and Buddy Rich from back in the day. We also talked over lunch a few years ago while I was in Toronto during the 2008 IAJE conference (Spike has since moved back to Montreal) and I think I learned more about about Tony Williams in an hour's conversation with Spike than all the drum books and magazines combined!

I didn't meet Norman Marshall Villeneuve until I moved to Toronto in 2007 (he and Spike would always hang out at the weekly jam session at the Rex) but I was certainly aware of his legacy and contributions from his days in Montreal. Incidentally, I played with pianist Oliver Jones this past weekend who is Norm's cousin (!) As you can see in the clips below Norman Villeneuve is a hard swinging drummer, very much in the spirit and style of the great Art Blakey (dig the sparkling/glow-in-dark drumsticks and his solo with a pair of maracas in the second clip!)

A particular quote brought a smile to my face from the very first clip above. When asked if those two were competitive with each other back in the day, Spike replied: "No, we were all friends. Montreal drummers were all friends with each other."

That says it all. Even today it's important that we remember that we're still all in this together!

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